Sauber will take inspiration from Force India as they look to return to F1’s midfield, but Fred Vasseur acknowledges that it “won’t be in one year or two years.”
Last season Sauber finished last in the Constructors’ Championship with five points on the board, 25 short of ninth-placed McLaren.
It was a year in which the team spent most of their time at the very back, both in qualifying and the races.
And it may be more of the same in 2018 based on pre-season timesheets.
Although Sauber are now running up-to-date Ferrari engines and have the backing of Alfa Romeo, Vasseur concedes they have a huge gap to bridge.
“For sure Alfa Romeo can’t expect to be in this kind of situation,” the team boss said.
“The target for us is to come back into the pace [of the midfield].
“We are far away. We were very far away last year. The first step for us would be to catch up the field.
“[When we catch up] we will be more and more attractive for the engineers, for the drivers, for everybody.”
But drawing inspiration from the likes of Red Bull, Mercedes and more recently Force India, Vasseur believes Sauber can return to form.
“You can’t build up a team [immediately],” he added.
“If you have a look at other projects like Red Bull 10 years ago, Mercedes seven years ago, it took time for them to be able to fight for championships and to win.
“In Mercedes’ case, they took over Brawn who was World Champion. It took five years to become World Champion again.
“We have started at the back and far away at the back. We have to be realistic.
“I know perfectly that it will take time to deliver and to improve.
“I don’t want to say that we don’t have to deliver next week. We have to be better next week than today. We have to be better in Bahrain than in Melbourne.
“It’s going to be a mid-term project to be in the midfield, it won’t be in one year or two years.
“Look also at Force India for a good reference and a good project. They were more than at the back. They built up something very strong.
“They were consistently fifth, fourth in the last two or three seasons. But it took 10 years for them to be at this pace.”